Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Generating Praise

Every generation seems to have its own label, character, or raison d'etre, and for several months, I've been thinking a great deal about the current generation who are now in their twenties.

Having a child in his mid-twenties (and a niece and nephew who are young adults as well), I have been watching this generation come of age from a parental and avuncular vantage point, and I feel blessed and lucky to have had many occasions to spend time with this particular cohort of young Americans.

What strikes me so clearly about this generation is, of course, its technological savviness, but also its level of political, social, and environmental sophistication. I have met young political activists, organic farmers, parents, educators and students who are, to me, light-years ahead of where my generation seemed to be when we were in our twenties, numbed by Reaganism and the cynicism of the 80's.

Now, while many Baby Boomers will quickly claim that their generation was the one that irrevocably changed the world---and indeed it was a powerful cohort whose influence is felt deeply and profoundly within our culture to this day---I am moved to say that the generation currently growing and developing in the midst of their third decade of life on earth will also have an equally profound effect on the course of world events.

What I see in this generation is a level of awareness unmatched in its sophistication and astuteness, and an open-mindedness that reflects the increased tolerance and diversity evidenced in our society at large. Perhaps the dawn of the Information Age has indeed assisted these young adults in being so connected with one another and the world on a 24/7 basis. While activists in the 1960s relied on the U.S. Postal Service and Ma Bell for communication, the current crop of activists use Twitter, Facebook, SMS, text messaging and other social networking tools to gain support for their causes and foment change from the grass roots level.

As someone in my forties who is watching the younger generation come into its own, I am decidedly surprised and pleased with what I see, and I have no doubt that the political and social leaders emerging from this bright cohort will no doubt revolutionize our society in ways still unforeseen.

From my nephew who writes about politics with incredible intelligence, to my niece who is currently in Southern Sudan on an agricultural internship, to my son and his beloved who work with the developmentally disabled, to the other young people who have crossed my path---I view with optimism the impact that this generation is having---and will continue to have---on our culture and society. And as I age, I will no doubt be grateful for their continued success in changing the world for the better as my generation cedes the reins to their capable and inspiring hands.
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